chaostangent

Girls and boys

A review of the Hourou Musuko anime series

In what is surely a common refrain of my generation, I don’t believe in a lot of things. One thing I do believe is that anime can be more than consumerist drivel or jail baiting deviance. That’s obviously a privileged position to take and separated both geographically and ideologically from the day-to-day reality of producing it (and the cyclical market forces that engender that production) but it takes a series like Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) to remind me that “something more” does exist with anime.

a situation that plays out like a watercolour car crash

And for once it’s not buried in the story where I usually go ferreting around for meaning and nuance, it’s right there in the topic. Shuichi Nitori who was born male but identifies as female is friends with Yoshino Takatsuki who, conversely, was born female but identifies as male; Hourou Musuko is the story of these two and their journey through junior high school.

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Bait and switch

A review of the Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de anime series

There’s a character in Inou Battle, not a main character mind you, he’s barely even a secondary character really, but he says something in the series’ ninth episode that more or less sums up my feelings for it:

[I’m] just your average, everyday reader, who wants to see something interesting or enjoyable

You and me both tertiary character man. Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (When supernatural battles become commonplace) sells itself in its title and in its first episode as teenagers suddenly gaining supernatural powers and then duking it out. Chronicle in anime form essentially. Only the “battles” of the title aren’t at all commonplace because they don’t happen at all until the very last episode; instead of these battles we get a gorgeously presented but utterly rote campus love comedy.

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Heroes never die

A review of the Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru anime series

Yuki Yuna will never be as popular as Madoka. It’s unfair to compare every magical girl show to that landmark series but Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru (Yuki Yuna is a Hero) doesn’t do itself any favours by trying to cherry pick a lot of the idiosyncrasies that made Madoka so special.

Don’t want to fight, oh wait now I’m fighting, oh isn’t fighting hard, oh you’re a newcomer, look at us accepting you

There is, as is now in fashion, the rather mean spirited take on being a magical girl. No longer is it all about having faith in your friends or vanquishing evil doers; there are elements of that but now there’s a price to pay. And it’s not just the tribulations of trying to be a teenage girl and a superhero and having to lie to your family. There’s the abstract, collage-effect enemies that drift menacingly and unknowably, savaging the colourful little pixies that assault it. There’s the music that may not come close to Yuki Kajiura’s haunting score but gives it a good go with some individually stand-out tracks. So it’s business as usual then?

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Bifurcated

On split cours and sequels

Image by maru (memoriatechnica) [Pixiv]

It’s only recently that I’ve started to believe that “cour” is in fact a word and not just a misspelling of “cur” (as in “that cur of a cour”). As it’s entered into the lexicon of anime over the past couple of years (AnimeNano puts its first use in English around 2011) it has become an easy shorthand for how long an anime series will run for. That word “series” ends up being problematic because - for me at least - it can now mean a whole multitude of things, thanks primarily to the introduction of “split cours”.

oh good another princess and the resurrection of characters who should be dead

As Wikipedia informs me, referring to a television broadcast (internet streaming simulcast etc.) as a “series” is a chiefly British use of the term, and in North America the more common term is “season”. “Season” works better when referring to something like anime because apart from a select few (One Piece et. al.), they can be measured in seasons i.e. winter, summer etc. and substituting “season” for “cour” isn’t exactly complex. However, semantically a problem arises when, as is becoming increasingly common, an anime runs for one season, lies fallow, and then finishes in another. The split cour.

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Godslayer

A review of the Rage of Bahamut: Genesis anime series

After three episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis), I still wasn’t sure what I was watching. There’s nothing particularly abstract (yes Soultaker I’m talking about you) about the story of two feuding friends going on adventures with a girl from another world. Except, in the first few episodes there are so many different ways the series could have gone - monster of the week, Queen’s Blade journey into fan service, Escaflowne adventures in a fantasy world to name a few - but it seems bullheadedly determined not to go with any of them and instead play the whole series by ear.

Peculiarly, it works. And not just because it throws everything, kitchen sink and all, at you and to see what sticks. After all you have an Arabian deity (Bahamut) mixed in with Christian mythology (heaven, hell, angels and devils) with some added Norse flavouring (the heavenly god is in fact Zeus), some Pagan witchcraft and wizardry and some historical persons of note thrown in for good measure. Like the origin of the dragon personification of Bahamut then, Shingeki no Bahamut is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in anime form. It has the overeager dungeon master cobbling together a piecemeal mythology with narrative abandon, the rollicking tales of a knight, a rogue and someone who wanted to play a female, and by the end of the campaign the adventurers are riding into battle on the back of a giant duck.

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